Friday, June 14, 2013

Follow-Up Friday - Interesting and Helpful Reader Comments

It's Friday, so time to highlight some of the interesting and helpful reader comments from the last two weeks:

1)  On Treelines has a Family Storytelling Contest on "Getting Started" (11 June 2013):

*  Cormac noted:  "Several weeks ago, I requested an invitation. The other night I went there again, because I received an invitation, to see what was there. Btw, I am using Safari v5.1.9 (and Firefox v21.0). I had difficulty reading several articles there using both browsers. I couldn't read all of the articles. Until they improve their website and usability for me, I can't recommend their website."

*  Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said:  "I posted my first story on Treelines a few days after I first heard of them. It was easy, I was working on my Mom's diary at the time. When I finished Tammy's story, just now, my Pete and Eileen story was one of the several suggestions along the bottom. Neat! I never had any problem with the site, at all. Fun! ;-)"

My comment:  Treelines seems to be a one-person operation, and I'm sure that Tammy Hepps will iron out the browser problems eventually.  

2)  On Reader Issues, Suggestions and Questions for (6 June 2013):

*  Eric Shoup (EVP of Product, of said:  "Thanks Randy (and all the other posters) for the feedback. We are listening and appreciate the input. It helps us to know where we still need to improve the service."

My comment: has been very receptive to receiving comments from me and my readers over the past years - I really appreciate that.  I emailed the list of reader comments (with several more comments) to Matt Deighton after talking with him at the Genealogy Jamboree.

3)  On Dear Randy: How to Resolve Duplicate Entries in RootsMagic 6 (10 June 2013):

*  RootsMagic advised:  "I would follow the steps Randy provided, except I would leave all the automatic merges selected.

"The ShareMerge option would be useful if the two RM databases both originally started from the same file (for example if a copy was made of the first file to create the second file originally, or if a GEDCOM was exported from the first database and imported into a new database to create the second file).

"Then after running the automatic merges, I would do Tools > Merge > Duplicate search to have RM list any additional possible duplicates that it wasn't sure whether to merge or not, and you can manually choose whether to have RM merge them."

*  Chris commented:  "Since there were problems with opening different files in different folders, that tells me they all had the same, or very similar, filenames.

"It might help to actually rename the file 1,2 and 3 that Randy mentioned to actually file1.rmgc, file2.rmgc and file3.rmgc. That way there is no confusion to where you are.  After all of the corrections are made to file3 it can be renamed to your preferred family file name."

My comments:  Bruce Buzbee (the RootsMagician) is always responsive in his comments to my blog posts - I appreciate his advice here!  Chris made an excellent suggestion.

4)  On SCGS Genealogy Jamboree Day Three (9 June 2013):

*  Elizabeth Lapointe asked:  "What did FindMyPast say when you asked them about the Canadian Census?  They have always been shy when it comes to Canadian records."

My comment:  They said that the Canadian census records are on their list of desired datasets, but that negotiations with some entities are difficult.  That doesn't sound good...  I also asked about Scottish records, and they said that since brightsolid also has the Scotland's People site, FindMyPast won't be providing access to Scottish records.  

5)  On This Week's Genealogical Eclectica (11 June 2013):

*  Antra commented:  ">>>>I'm always impressed and fascinated by genealogists that travel to Eastern Europe and are successful in their search.<<<

"It's really not all that difficult ;) There are a lot of misconceptions out there about research in Eastern Europe, and the big ones are that either a) all of the records are destroyed, or b) the records are difficult to access. Of course, it varies based on locality as to completeness and access to records, but some places have made huge strides in making records available.

"One would often think that because of the wars that the region has endured over the past century that there would be a lot of document loss, but my experience (predominantly in Latvian records) is that it isn't the case. That's the thing with totalitarian powers like the Soviets and the Nazis - they like knowing things about people, so they wouldn't destroy documents that could come in handy in tracking and tracing people and finding out who they are and who their families were. Now, the storage standards that they kept the documents in could be considered questionable, but the documents are still mostly intact.

"Archives all over Eastern Europe are digitizing their collections at exponential rates. The leader in digitization as far as I've seen is Estonia, whose archives have digitized not only church records and revision lists (which were tax lists kept by the Russian Empire), but also list of parish residents, information on military service, name changes and so on.

"I've constructed tours for a number of my clients, and several of them have had success in finding long-lost relatives when arriving to their ancestral home parishes. So much is possible!"

My comment:  Thank you, Antra, for this information - it's encouraging to hear.  For this unilingual genealogist, who's has had some success dealing with Norwegian records, I'm still impressed and fascinated with others who travel and succeed.  I appreciate people like Antra who help researchers like me be successful.

*  Dan Stone said:  "Finally! Now things will get very interesting. I hope this will become universally adopted, although I agree that the transfer of sources between programs/platforms presents a huge challenge. Even so, if the rest of one's data can be moved intact between programs/platforms, that would be a monumental step forward."

*  Sven-Ove Westberg noted:  "You are right Randy the citations will be the problem. Evidence Explained need to be transferred to a standard format such as MARC 21 or MARCXML that is supported by the Library of Congress. This should then be included in the GEDCOM X standard."

*  Louis Kessler commented:  "I disagree with you that a new GEDCOM should transfer citations.  Only the source information to identify the source needs to be transferred. Citations are like formatting. Once you have the source information, you can create the citation. 

"And each program should be allowed to create the citation any way they want. If they use Evidence Explained, then so be it. They may interpret EE differently than another program, and they should be allowed to do so their own way, and display it their own way. They may even give you, if they want, other options, e.g. Richard Lackey or even bibliographic methods such as APA or Chicago. Again, it should be up to the program, and not up to the standard to force it to one interpretation of one methodology.

"The important thing is that your source data can be transferred. And GEDCOM does that reasonably."

*  Geolover offered:  "The FamilySearch-FamilyTree code for the so-called "GEDCOM X" is still quite limited. At least, as Tamura Jones noted, the designers of the misnamed "GEDCOM X" have settled on one of the three programming options they were using.

"The current version is far from being able to be any 'standard'. It is yet to be seen whether future design will ably integrate evidentiary citations with events."

*  Dan Stone pondered:  "After reading Louis and Sven's comments, and pondering the issue a bit more, it would be nice if there was a universal standard for source elements (such as 'title', 'author', 'publisher', etc.). With such a standard in place, these source elements could then be seamlessly transferred between programs/platforms, but the resulting ordering and formatting of the elements could be decided by the receiving program/platform. That way I could display my footnote in Evidence Explained style, and someone else could display the footnote in Richard Lackey style, yet we could exchange our database back and forth because the underlying elements that make up the source, footnote and bibliography listing were identical."

My comments:  Thank you all for the comments and suggestions.  Regarding Louis' comment, when I wrote "source citations" I meant both the source and the citation within that source.  Different people use different terminology.  To me, a "source" is a book, article, website, etc.  The "citation" is the location in the source I found the information (a page number, a record number, etc.).  I think, but am not sure, that what Louis considers a "source" includes the citation part of the source citation.  I think that both parts of a "source citation" need to be transferred, and GEDCOM does that (although source citations get mangled by some platforms reading EE template data from another platform -- that is why I use "free-form sources" in my database). 

Dan's comment about "universal source elements" is helpful.  I've thought about "how to transfer source citations between platforms" at length, and will try to do a blog post about it. 

7)  Thank you to my readers for their interesting, helpful and insightful comments - and congratulations for defeating the Captcha trap.

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver

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